Wednesday, 5 May 2010

Aliens and Us

I love Science Fiction and I love space. Naturally that means anything on the TV with the word 'Star' in in, pretty much becomes compulsory viewing for me. I really enjoy a flick at the cinema that ventures into the realm of possibilities beyond my current time span.

I would love to meet aliens. Either them invading Earth, them coming to visit or the very unlikely event of being part of a human expedition beyond the stars. A hundred years ago, it would not have been conceivable to fly across the oceans in the way we do, let alone depend on satellites orbiting the Earth far above our heads, but it is a part of the modern world. Yet, despite all the hoopla, we are no closer to realistically crossing the vast distances between the stars in any meaningful time scale. The Voyager probe has only just begun to leave the Solar System, over thirty years ago, and as the most far flung man-made object ever, it is only some 15 LIGHT HOURS away from Earth. For reference sakes, Proxima Centurai is over four LIGHT YEARS away. Clearly, we have a long way to go before we get Far Beyond the Stars...

But there is one more way to search for the proverbial E.T. Via light, or more accurately, Radio Waves. Our presence of Earth has been detectable before the Space Age really took off. Our Radio and Television broadcasts as well as our use of Radar has meant that we have been leaking information into space for a very long time.

And maybe some other alien race has been doing this too, hence (about umpteen years too late) I downloaded the SETI@home project in order to help with the search for intelligent alien life. Again, space is very big, it is very unlikely that we will find something at random in the sky. Even if SETI does find something, we humans will probably dismiss it as a glitch in the matrix. Remember, we have only broadcasting out into space for eighty years, and who knows whether we will continue to do so? As I saw on The Sky at Night, with digital television becoming a reality, we are actually loosing one form of our outward broadcast into space. Plus we are assuming that someone out there is listening to us.

Still, nothing like feeling community spirited, and taking part in some grand but ultimately futile project.

But let me get back to the alien thing. There has to be life on other planets. I think it is only a matter of time before we find evidence to support this. I do believe that in my lifetime, we will find life on other worlds. Nothing spectacular, probably bugs and fungi. But nonetheless, there is a distinct possibility that this will happen. And if we do find life, however simple, then it shows that life can independently evolve where the conditions are right to do so. And that will lead to another question, what really lies beyond the stars...

I am taking part in a minute way to search for E.T. In all seriousness, I think it is ridiculous to believe that we are the only life in the Universe. For me, such ideas equate to the European belief 500 odd years ago that the Sun revolved around the Earth. We are living on just one of many rocks that hurtle through space. Eventually, our telescopes will get better, we will be able to see further and in more detail. And who knows. Maybe one day, we could all be texting some alien chick who lives just round the stellar corner...

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